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Cuevas, José Luis

Cuevas, José Luis, 1934–2017, Mexican expressionist painter and sculptor, b. Mexico City. He was essentially self-taught, his influences ranging from Bruegel and Goya to Posada and Grosz . Cuevas rebelled against the previous generation of Mexican nationalist muralists that included Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros , considering them falsely picturesque and humanistic, and untrue to the Mexican experience. He expounded this view in the manifesto Cactus Curtain (1956) and other writings. He was a superb draftsman, and his paintings are almost exclusively elegant ink drawings, some with tonal washes, which distort and deform human figures, often placing them in frightening settings, a dark vision that to Cuevas represented contemporary humanity's solitude, suffering, and inability to communicate. He was also a skilled printmaker, known particularly for his mid-1960s prints concerned with the Marquis de Sade. In the latter part of his career he turned to sculpture, producing bronzes, e.g., the monumental figure, La Giganta, created for the 1992 opening of the José Luis Cuevas Museum in Mexico City. His work is in many international collections.

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